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  • Julian Taylor at the London Stadium

Kudus on the scene for spirited Hammers as Newcastle denied at climax



West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 2


Julian Taylor at the London Stadium


Two teams, playing off the back of admirable European victories.

And for long spells it looked like West Ham had let themselves down with defensive errors, to lose all three points in a game which took a while to ignite in east London. But in Mohammed Kudus, their new signing from Ajax, a point was gathered with only two minutes to go.

A Tomas Soucek effort in the first half initially had the Hammers on track. Yet, as it transpired, their brittle rear guard nearly cost them all three points against an opportunistic Newcastle United. The Magpies' striker Alexander Isak made his own telling contribution.


The Swedish striker is a favourite on Tyneside, and here he netted his fifth and sixth domestic goals of 2023-24. With five minutes remaining, replaced by his manager, Eddie Howe, for Callum Wilson, his, and Newcastle's work - or so it seemed - was done in the capital.


Fortunately for West Ham, their goals come from different areas these days and Kudus, 23, delivered, while simultaneously vindicating his manager, David Moyes' decision to send him on for Soucek with 15 minutes remaining.


Both Moyes and counterpart, Eddie Howe, will have their own interpretations of the afternoon's events, but a point each as we enter the international break was a fair outcome.


Sunshine


With unseasonal October sunshine bearing down invitingly upon the packed crowd inside the London Stadium, the Hammers set about their visitors – one point behind them in eighth place before kick-off - in fine style. It was exactly what Moyes had been hoping for, in the wake of the team's impressive Europa League win away to German side SC Freiburg.


If both clubs had been enjoying respective continental adventures of late, West Ham were indeed mindful of the possibility that Newcastle were still beaming in the afterglow of their landmark Champions League 4-1 trouncing of Paris Saint-Germain. In fact, they were able to take advantage of a sliver of inexplicable light, offered to them by Nick Pope.


Thanks to an odd rush of blood to the head of the Magpies’ keeper, the east Londoners were able to go ahead as early as the eighth minute, the lively Soucek taking advantage.


From a long, teasing Lucas Paqueta pass down the West Ham left, Pope had initially committed himself to attending to the threat, only to be beaten to the ball by Emerson. And all the left-back had to do was find striding midfielder Soucek waiting with intent inside the six yard box to drive the ball home.

Michail Antonio and Paqueta were causing Newcastle sufficient problems in attack across the opening twenty minutes, making it difficult for Magpies in-form Kieran Trippier to forage with his usual intent down the right hand side.

There was a strange lethargy about Newcastle, meanwhile, throughout the opening 45 minutes. Those who starred at St James' Park against PSG such as Miguel Almiron and Sean Longstaff, failed to drive forward, with Alphonse Areola in the home goal seldom troubled. The opening period was characterised with niggles and general wastefulness. Magpies midfielder Bruno Guimaraes in particular was in the thick of of it all.


Assertive Hammers


The Hammers started the second half with intent, James Ward-Prowse assertive, and Edson Alvarez really should have done much better when presented with a free header ten yards out from a corner.

For all their growing possession, Newcastle continued to be largely unfocused and haphazard in the final third. However, within five significant minutes, Howe's side carved out a couple of goals, courtesy of slack Hammers' defending which will surely dismay Moyes. The first Isak intervention was, once again, subject to another VAR check and a minute or so of anxiety for the travelling Toon Army. But the goal by the £50m Magpie stood. It all arrived in the 56th minute, when a long range Trippier free kick could only be nodded by Alvarez dangerously across his own goal, the ball falling invitingly to Isak who prodded home from inside the six yard area.


With West Ham visibly stunned and failing to focus, the rangy Newcastle striker could hardly believe his good fortune when he was presented with an additional, simple opportunity to put his side ahead. Another long ball found the unmarked Trippier, who had the presence of mind to instantly volley the ball first time across the Hammers goalmouth, where Nayef Aguerd failed to clear the danger. Isak, lurking, made no mistake.

Havoc

Isak was causing all kinds of havoc for the Hammers by this stage, and, in another moment of worry for th hosts, only the combination of Aguerd and the woodwork prevented a hat-trick for the former Real Sociedad forward. It was to prove costly for Newcastle.


A 79th minute effort by set-piece specialist Ward-Prowse didn't go close enough for West Ham as their efforts to retrieve the situation faltered as the London Stadium clock ticked down.

Still, Moyes' men revived themselves, albeit without much conviction - until substitute Kudus arrived on the scene. Answering the call when matters looked lost, the Ghanaian timed his run to the edge of the Newcastle penalty area perfectly and, when opportunity arose, he drilled the ball with his left foot underneath Pope and into the right hand corner of the net.


All over east London, the sense of relief was as tangible as it was audible.


Hammers: Areola, Zouma, Coufal, Ward-Prowse, Antonio (Benrahma 75), Paqueta, Alvarez, Bowen, Aguerd, Soucek (Kudus 75), Emerson

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